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our connection with the body, it were not so requisite to strike our senses in order to make an impression on our souls. They are then very puny reasoners,who, under pretence of wisdom, ridicule such imagery: while, on the other hand, those are wrong who prize too highly their own or condemn that adopted elsewhere. This is a theme on which we may be allowed to expatiate freely. Our fables cannot approach the truth; but they may indicate it imperfectly, as a word may do an entity. Nations quarrel not about their languages; I may call a ship what you name vaisseau,vasceilo or navis: nor do poets about their metaphors; one terming a ship a sea horse, and another a bird of the ocean: neither should people object with greater severity to each other's ideal pictures of the site or the form of a region or state, which, as they all agree, is beyond the utmost stretch of mortal comprehension. Those representations pass away with time and vary with fashion; but the truth they shadow forth remains unchanged because eternal, unconceived because
infinite opinionum enim commenta delet dies,
naturae judicia confirmat (0.
Hoetius, who was a wonderful favourite with Dante, having used this expression second death to denote oblivion, such, it is likely, is its meaning
(i) Nat. Deor. 1. a. par. a.
in this passage also; where the damned are therefore represented as fruitlessly desiring some oblivious antidote for their pangs an antidote that
might arise from the forgetfulness of their eternal judge, if it were possible for him to forget.
Quod si putatis longius vitaui trahi
Mortalis aura nominis;
Cum sera vobis rapiet hoc etiam dies
Jain vos secunda mors manet (0. Petrarch (whether imitating Boetius or Dante) uses the same form of speech in the sense of oblivion chiamasi fama et e morir secondo. It is
possible however that a verse in the Koran
« Death twice! O Malec intercede for us that thy
(Lord would end us by annihilation! » (l) might
have been in Dante's mind, and, in that case, he meant by second death the death of the soul or utter annihilation: but this is indubitable, that his second death means either oblivion, or annihilation of the soul; and not hell, which is the signification of that expression in the Apocalypse —«the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death »(3); and much less can it mean the Last Judgment, as is advanced by some expounders. In the one case, the damned cannot be said to be howling for it, since they are already in full and fearful possession of it; ,and in the
(i) De Con. 1. «. c. 7.
other, it were doubly improper to say they howl for it in vain, for they cannot have any reason to desire it, and, if they had such a desire, it would not be in vain; since come thai Last Judgment will, and since their pangs shall be then increased* from their own increased capacities of suffering; as we shall have laid down expressly, by and by, in Canto VI. Nor is Buonanni's supposition' tenable, that they deceive themselves and hope for that change, although it shall be worse for them; (0 that were to hold that hope is among the damned, whereas the very lines of Dante's own definition of their state declare that it admits of
no hope >
Lasciate ogni speranza voi cha'ntrate! But that the God of vengeance should forget them, or that their souls should die as well as their bodies, are, each, desires both natural and vain.
Hope is that which distinguished a state of expiation, from one of otter ruin. This latter implies such ineffable misery that, if we did not know the contrary to be the fact, we might surmise that a doctrine so repugnant to human natnre could never be long preserved except by that faith which is all-divine, and which might therefore (had it been the pleasure of the Divinity) ordain precepts
(i) I dannati bramano la gran spnlrnza pcrcbe »perano in qneita mutazione <ii trovais! mono male . bis. lopra 1' Iuferno p. 64.
unnatural in our estimation, with quite as much justice, as if they seemed natural: but as to a state of expiation, it is essential unto every system of social morals, and, under some shape or other, has been universally taught by all the varieties of faiths, heavenly or unheavenly, that have been in vogue at any period since the creation . Whether on this earth, or fluttering round it, or cooped within it, or in the sphere of flame; whether migrating through human or other terrene, or marine, or aerial bodies; (0 whether in a state where the pains are common , but the periods various, or where the pains are various , but the periods fixed to a thousand (a),'or to nine hundred, or to seven thousand years (3); whether suffering from the action of fire, or transformed into its nature W, or parching in the wind, or satisfying justice by the proportionate pangs of corporeal dissolution; in almost every hypothesis, ancient or modern, the soul must expiate the misdemeanors of mortality before she can enjoy God: and, to express this process, I see not why the term Purgatory be not at least as rational and classic as any. Dante necessarily adopted it; for it was the language of his day, which to change wantonly were, at best, af
(i) Aeneid. 1. 6. v. 74i.— Servius . ap. Id. —Ascen. Id, Som.
(») Aeneid. 1. 6. v. 748. — Lactan. vn.
(3) Sale. p. i»3.
(4) Id. p. ai5. , SUHTO I.
fectation. Nor did it put a rein upon his imagination; since even the Council of Trent has not presumed to expound either the nature or situation of Purgatory, only deciding that some such place exists a prudent reserve and surely somewhat rashly criticized (0.
The purity of its Paradise is perhaps the most peculiarly sublime feature of Christianity. Yet was not profane Antiquity unfavoured by some glimpse of such celestial light; by which the divine mercy is fully exemplified: and it were erroneous to consider either the Olympus of the Iliad or Virgil's Elysium as intended to represent the seat of perfect felicity. In the latter are neither Gods nor Demi-gods: and as to the former, it is true it was the throne of Jupiter; but only of Jupiter son of Saturn, and not of the supreme Divinity under whatever names designated (for all of them, though differing in sound, conveyed but a single idea, that of an infinite, eternal Master) not of the World or Soul-of-the-world of the Stoics, not of the Deity of Plato, the Grecian Upurov Aitiov , not of the Jupiter of Horace or Macrobius, of Him to whom the Ancients never raised a statue, professing they were restrained by reverence (a). Homer made his
(i) Sarpi. Storia del Con. Trid. 1. 8. p. 397.
(a) Qui prima causa et est et vocatur, et unus omnium qusque aunt, quseque videntur esse priuceps et origo est.... ideo ut nullum